Dave Barry's Apprentice

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Harry Potter & the Half-Bloo

My wife and I went to see the latest Harry Potter flick on Saturday. When purchasing our tickets at the theater, we opted to use the little kiosk machines in the foyer. You know the kind of machines I'm talking about, right? The ones where you can just touch the screen and it selects the thing you weren't trying to touch. Or it doesn't select anything at all. So you wait a few seconds, then try again, and still nothing. A few more seconds waiting, then you try again, and all of a sudden it selects that thing seventeen times. My zip code is apparently now 8411111111111111.

Anyway, it didn't have enough room to list the entire title of Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince. So it listed it as Harry Potter & the Half-Bloo. Which I should have realized was an omen as to how the movie would be. It half-blew.

For those of you who are not Harry Potter fans out there, I'll make it easy on you. I won't talk about Quidditch rules, the four Hogwarts Houses, dementors, or patronii. I will explain things in much simpler terms. The bad guys didn't do anything.

For example, here is some dialogue that's fairly close to the real thing in one of the scenes...

Harry Potter: I'm angry with you, bad person! I'm going to chase you! (he jumps through fire)
Audience: No, Harry, that's just what she wants! She's luring you away so you can be attacked!
Harry's girlfriend: Harry, wait up! (she jumps through fire)
Harry's adult friends: We just saw two kids jump through flames but we're too scared to follow! We'll stay back here for a bit!
Audience: You jerks! Go protect Harry!
Harry and his girlfriend: Oh no! We're all alone in the dark now! And we're surrounded by bad guys who are much more powerful than us! They could hurt us in like, 1000 different ways!
Bad guys: Let's just stand here looking menacing for a while. That ought to do the trick!
Harry's adult friends: We're coming now! We waited a few days for the fire to go out and finally proceeded after the last ember died down!
Bad guys: Oh no, more people are coming. It's probably best for us to leave in a puff of black smoke. Well, see you later, Harry.
Harry and his girlfriend: Bye, guys, it was nice meeting you! See you in a few scenes! Keep practicing those scary faces!

You can see how frustrating it would be to have a movie with virtually no conflict. Sure, there was a semi-intense sequence towards the end with some zombies trying to attack. But then Dumbledore flicked his wand and created fire to ward them off. Ironic, eh?

So here's what I think should happen. We need a BBC television series to depict the Harry Potter books. We'd be looking at roughly 20 hours of show instead of about two and a half. I think they could finally put everything from the books into it.

Speaking of books turning into movies, have you heard about "Where the Wild Things Are"? New feature-length film coming out soon. We're talking about making an entire movie based on a "book" that consists of ten sentences. That's right, ten sentences. To give you an idea of how little that is, this paragraph is already halfway there (even if one of the sentences technically lacks certain essential grammatical properties to form a sentence).

I don't think they got stuck trying to figure out what they were going to have to leave out of that movie. You can pretty much make sure you've got it all covered in the first five minutes.

No pictures today, folks, just wanted to do a short one...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Today In History returns

I know, I know, this has been anticipated for quite a while. I've been waiting because I wanted to make the column that ushered back in the era of "Today In History" really, REALLY fantastic. Today in history is probably one of the most important days ever. Not for the vast numbers of events that took place. Today in history is so huge because of one single event.

On this day, July 24, in 1948, Marvin the Martian made his first appearance to the world.

If there are any readers out there who are unfamiliar with Marvin the Martian, I want you to go stick your hands in boiling tar as punishment. Educate yourselves! It's Marvin!

Ok, take your hands out of the boiling tar and scroll down with your elbows, here are the essentials you should know about Marvin:

Looney Tunes character.
He's from Mars (duh).
His outfit is, well, there's a picture, look for yourself.
One catchphrase: "Where is the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom!"
He's been trying to destroy the Earth for a VERY long time because it obstructs his view of Venus.
His Earth-destroying attempts are always foiled.
He has a martian pistol that fires energy beams and bubbles.
In 2011, we should expect to see a live-action/computer animated film about him.

I know what you're thinking: "Holy cow boiling tar hurts!" I'm sure it does. But you really need to focus on this upcoming movie, because this is a very important issue. Is Marvin going to be part of the live-action half of the movie? Or will he be computer animated?

Personally, I think he should be live-action. And I know just the perfect actor to play him:

Bill Milner.

I know what you're thinking: "My hands still feel like they've been submerged in boiling tar!" That's because they were. But you have a really short attention span. I doubt any of you have heard of Bill Milner. That's ok, don't run, I won't ask you to tar-boil your hands again. You should however, watch the preview for "Son of Rambow". Bill Milner plays the character Will Proudfoot (the kid pretending to be the son of Rambow). Don't you think he'd make a great Marvin? Well, I suppose if you didn't know Marvin, you wouldn't really know who could portray him well. And really it's just a matter of size, because his face is really just a pair of eyes. Although for those of you who thought that since we were just looking for somebody small and they should have a lot of acting experience, I just don't think Gary Coleman would cut it.

By the way, on the subject of actors, if anybody sees Michael Richards today (more popularly known as Kramer, less popularly known as Stanley Spedowski, the Janitor in UHF), wish him a happy birthday from me. The guy just hit 60 years old today. And I might as well mention that Gallagher (the watermelon comedian guy) turned 63 today, and Amelia Earhart turned 112. And if you run into her and wish her a happy birthday, I hope your stay in the Bermuda Triangle is pleasant and goes on without a hitch.

Back to Gary Coleman for a moment (because really, all good conversations get back to him at some point). A lot of you may know that he has a life littered with criminal charges. In 1998 he was charged with assault after he punched a woman. But most people don't know the setting of that story. Let me quote this sentence from Wikipedia directly:

"Coleman had been working as a security guard, and bus driver Tracy Fields requested his autograph while he was shopping for a bulletproof vest in a California mall."

Is that not one of the best sentences you've ever read?

How did Coleman get a job as a security guard? He's 4 feet, 8 inches tall. What security guard company hires regardless of height? I mean, I'm all for equal opportunity, but some people just aren't cut out for certain occupations! And it wouldn't even be a dinky security company where they never see any action because he was allegedly shopping for a BULLETPROOF VEST!!! Can you even find those in your average mall? Are there new, high-tech versions of them hanging on the racks in Brookstone, right next to their massage chairs?

By the way, Gary Coleman ran for governor of California in 2003. He turned up in 8th place with over 14 thousand votes.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for:

Gary Coleman's YouTube highlights:
The good ol' days
Divorce Court
The Church Ball trailer (one of Gary's latest films)

Marvin the Martian
Bill Milner
Gary Coleman
Brookstone Shopper Enjoying Massage Chair

Thursday, July 23, 2009


For those of you who are more recent to this blog, I'd like to reiterate its purpose. I would love to take over where Dave Barry left off, a few years ago. I'd love to be a humor columnist. So I'm following his style as closely as I deem appropriate without crossing any of those silly little plagiarism lines.

I even offer $50 to the person who can arrange for Dave Barry and I to meet. I'd love to take him to lunch and discuss how I could fill in the shoes he left behind. I'd also like to ask him how he's been getting on these past few years without any shoes.

Ok, back to business. I've been mostly doing "Today In History" sketches, analyzing the historical events that occurred on each day in...um...history. But I'm finding more and more days are quite devoid of good material to work with. It's hard to turn the opening of some concentration camp into humor. So I may still throw in a "Today In History" every now and then, but I'm also planning on straying out to other topics. Like today for instance. We'll be discussing:

Mecha robots

Basically, these are fictitious robots that are gigantic. They usually have some resemblance to humans (in shape, not size or function) which allows them to act like humans. Often they do battle, so they act like humans by doing martial arts, sword fighting, and I'm sure they could make obscene gestures at their opponents. Sometimes though, when they're not protecting Japan from radioactive experiments gone horribly awry, they like to lounge around the house watching television, just like humans.

Fun idea, right? Putting the "fiction" back into "science fiction" right? Not anymore. Carlos Owens decided to build one in his own backyard.

It's 18 feet tall and weighs about a ton. This thing is steel, cables, and hydraulics. He imagines these being used in war ultimately, so naturally he programmed his robot to raise its arms, bend its knees, and do a sit-up. So the mecha should be able to at least pass basic training.

The thing that kills me is that it only cost this guy $25,000 to make. It's like Carlos just built a new car for himself. I sure hope he rides his mecha to work. That'd be sweet. He could get any parking spot he wanted. Actually, he'd probably need most of them.

I'm not sure if Carlos' mecha can transform into a boombox or anything, but I still think this is pretty sweet.

Of course, Carlos wasn't the first one to make something like this. His is the most similar in design to the Power Rangers' one, but there were a few predecessors:

Landwalker (Japanese)
A hexapod walking tractor (built by Timberjack)
T-52 Enryu (again, Japanese)

The best part of those videos is the guy remotely operating the T-52. He's twenty feet away with his arm movements controlling the robot remotely. And he's got a hard hat on, just in case the tent he's in collapses.

I must say, I still prefer Carlos' model. Even if he has put the mecha robots on hold for right now because he's working on something else that he describes as "perdy frikken kewl!!!" I am not exaggerating, those are his exact words. There were even three exclamation marks. I don't know what could be "kewl"er than these mechas! I mean, this guy did anti-ballistic testing on the carrier chassis for the augmentation suit with promising results! I really don't know what that means, but it definitely sounds worthy of governmental funding.

So I was searching around on YouTube for reasonably awesome videos having to do with mechas, and I came across this:

Japanese Spider-Man show (with a mecha Spider-man robot for some reason)

I was also reminded of Robot Chicken's interpretation of Voltron. I'd recommend jumping this video to 35 seconds in. Voltron (a mecha) is forced to compete in a dance-off against one of its enemies. Voltron gets "served". Not the best video quality, but it's the thought that counts.

Fake Mecha
Real Mecha

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My trip

So a few eons ago, roughly in the dirt age, I said I wouldn't be putting personal stuff on this blog. I wanted to make it funny, not a my-life-cumentary. I'm going to break that rule today though. I think you'll still find it more amusing than informative. My rule of thumb is going to be this: If, by the time you have finished reading this, you have laughed at least thrice, I have succeeded. However, once you have read this, if you can tell me what color my toothbrush is, I'll know I crossed the line.

I have to give you a little background, so bear with me. My wife and I flew to Boston with her family, stayed for a couple nights, then started a cruise that went around the New England area and ended in Montreal. My wife's family then flew back home but my wife and I stayed a couple days in Montreal. Let me see if I can paint a more colorful picture for you:

In Boston we all stayed at a wonderful hotel right on the waterfront. We were on the 12th floor. Each room had roughly four dozen plug systems in the wall, so that you could simultaneously recharge phones, work on the laptop, listen to your iPod, and, for the more adventuresome traveller, bring your own washer and dryer from home and do your laundry. The flatscreen televisions in all the rooms got so many channels that I think they made it to the four and five digits. I started randomly pressing numbers to see what I might chance upon and I'm pretty sure I got shots from the Hubble on one channel and, on the next, a thermal imaging satellite display of the current position of enemy troops in Afghanistan. The cleaning staff were all highly-trained ninjas. They didn't knock. You never saw them. Things just appeared clean within fourteen seconds of being out-of-place or dirty.

Then we got on the cruise ship. Each room here had fruit bowls where you could select which fruit you wanted to appear in there daily. All the meals were provided on board, of course, except somehow my usual diet of three square meals a day was transformed into 5 or 6 meals a day. And the effect they had on my mid-section was definitely not the shape of a square. There was so much dessert that they had an on-board dentist you were required to visit every other day to take care of the new cavities that had cropped up due to the sugar overload. The beds and pillows were plush and envelopped you in their arms of luxury every time you lay down.

Finally, we arrived at Montreal. On our own now, my wife and I had opted for a slightly cheaper hotel. In the E-mail correspondence I had with the hotel staff (confirming our reservation, etc.), they asked me if we would like, and I quote, "a double-bad room or a queen bad room." One typo I can forgive, but this clearly shows the intention was to write "bad". I can even be a little forgiving of those who don't speak English perfectly! Shoot, Montreal is a pretty multi-lingual town, I understand that! But "bad" is one of the first words you learn in another language. Here's the actual order:

The alphabet
Numbers 1-10
"How are you?"
"Where is the bathroom?"
"Please don't shoot, I'll give you my wallet."

Of course, it depends on which country you're going to. Sometimes they teach you that last phrase before anything else.

Anyway, we arrive at the hotel. It's in a very different part of town than what we're used to. I'll just leave it at that and let you use your imagination. So already I'm feeling a little queasy about this hotel. Then I see that upon opening the front door, I'm faced with about 3000 steps. It looks like I've just entered an indoor ziggurat. I kept expecting to meet a Shaolin monk at the top who was going to teach me the forgotten martial art of Kao Tung. No such luck. Just the reception desk...er...window thingee.

So we get to our room and I'm thinking the place can't be all that bad. Sure, it has a few quirks, but every place does, right? The wall paint is cracked (on the walls that were painted), the phone doesn't work, the alarm clock is displaying what I presume are either Russian letters or Stargate symbols, the closet is...ok there isn't a closet, the bed feels like it's just a thin, dirty sheet thrown over slate rock, and the towels in the bathroom look like they were used to clean the bathroom floor and then hung back on the rack. That last hypothesis really wouldn't surprise me if I found out it were true because the person we had passed on our way to our room was not actually another tenant but the cleaning man. And for a cleaning guy, it looked like he didn't mind doing other people's rooms but had a strict personal rule against rendering his own chamber a little less...scary. Let's just say that if I worked for the CDC, I would have roped off the area immediately and taken an iodine shower.

He had been lying down on his bed watching TV in a wifebeater and boxer shorts, one cigarette in his mouth, another in his hand. In that same hand was a bottle of liquor (there was another half-full bottle of the same stuff by the TV). His hair seemed to have migrated south off his head and was now setting up camp all over his torso. He had given a partially-toothless smile and nod at us as we passed.


Needless to say, we spent very little of our sojourn in the hotel. However, the room was booked and we were only there for a few days, so we opted to stay. One evening as we came home there was a poor soul sitting at the top of the staircase. The gender was indecipherable from the bottom of the steps (and from the top for that matter), although I was fairly certain it was a human. It looked like he(?) had been captured in a giant net, beaten over the head, and robbed of most of his clothes. As I approached the last thousand steps I was able to see him more clearly and distinguish that my first assumption had been incorrect. He had chosen to dye his hair blood-red and the giant net actually WAS the primary clothing he was sporting.

So our accommodations throughout the trip juxtaposed quite nicely together (Mrs. Gafford, my twelfth grade English teacher would be so proud of me for using the word "juxtaposed" correctly in that sentence). From the height of fancy living right down to the depths of funkytown. To be fair, the owners/managers of that last hotel were quite nice once we successfully communicated through makeshift sign language. Which was mostly necessary because I was out of breath after climbing to an entirely different elevation.

By the way, my toothbrush is blue.

Boston Hotel
Cruise Ship

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Last One For A While

Alright kiddos, I'm leaving tomorrow, so start preparing yourselves now for my absence.

Here are some great tidbits of history, taken from a smattering of the days I'm going to be gone (so you don't miss the good stuff):

Soapy Smith was shot on July 8, 1898, releasing Skagway, Alaska from his iron grip. Soapy was a con man and a gangster back in the day. I know, I know, "Soapy" is not the most intimidating nickname. Apparently for 20 years he would sell bars of soap. The crowd thought there was money inside the wrapping of some of the bars. His gang of fiendish soapy accomplices would be in the crowd, buy a bar or two of soap, and then loudly proclaim to have won something. Of course, they had produced whatever they "won". Twenty years folks. This guy ran the first infomercial for twenty years.

Wait, it gets better. In Skagway he set up a telegraph office in 1897. Telegraph lines didn't even reach Skagway until 1901. You do the math.

Also on July 8, but in 1932, the Dow Jones hit the lowest level of the Great Depression, bottoming out at 41.22. Good thing we've come a long way since that relative level of crappy economics.

On Jul 10, 988 AD, the city of Dublin is founded. Within 12 minutes Guinness was invented for the celebration.

On July 12, any year, not too much happened. It has a record low number of events recorded as taking place on that day in history (21). I'm used to 70+ events for a given day. So when July 12 rolls around, do something big and important, knowing that you just made it a more striking day than most people ever, anywhere, at any point in history.

Nevermind, do that on July 13th. They only had a whopping 16 events. However, one of those 16 was the completion of the Hollywoodland sign in Los Angeles, in 1923. The last four letters were dropped in 1949 when it was renovated. They were then sold to Joseph Shmoe, for $82.50. Joe promptly erected them in his backyard, just under giant letters reading "UFOs" and over giant letters reading "HERE". Oddly enough, he has not been heard from since...

Holy cow! Only 23 events on July 14th! Apparently if you do something big and important in July, you're most likely outdoing history. What a boring month! It's a good thing I'm taking off on vacation, because I obviously wouldn't have enough material on a daily basis if I stuck around!

That's it. I'm stopping this madness. No point in looking over another dozen events for the days I'll be gone. Instead, how about I give you some good things to do during the time that you normally would have reserved for my blog? Similar to the post from a few days ago, when I gave you a few websites that I found intriguing/funny, only better...

YouTube Greats:
Pachelbel Rant (careful, the last fifteen seconds or so he launches into some pg-13 language)
PES Fireworks (I have no idea what PES is, but this is short and neat)
Evian Roller Babies (I knew this one was gold after 5 seconds)
Amazing Japanese...um...Something (I did this exact same thing as a kid, only without the Japanese interludes, which roughly translated mean "This product was not made in Taiwan")
Cats (Not the musical. I'm usually against those thousands of cat and dog videos, but when I saw the cat hanging on for dear life to a ceiling fan IN MOTION, well, this video won me over)
Fun prank, but it's WAY too complex for me to ever actually do
Funny kid with stage fright...he looks like he's about to hurl...
Wow. I just don't know what to say. I will say this though, after about a minute or so, there are some crude references and a big bad swear word drops out of nowhere toward the end. Consider yourself forewarned. But the first minute is good clean fun and you'll probably laugh harder than you ever have before...
One of those contagiously funny moments The sad thing is that I don't think this was staged. Some foreign talk show about a very serious subject (no idea what the subject was, my language skills are not that finely tuned) and the host can't stop laughing at this one guy's voice.
The most outdoorsy guy ever I think actually, that if I were stuck on a deserted island with this guy, I'd vote myself off.
Charlie the Unicorn (no explanation needed)
The best fight scene ever, hands-down. Imagine a protagonist that is a combination of the following: Cheech Marin's looks, The Simpsons Abu, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, and Richard Simmons. Oh, and don't forget Awesome. Mix some Awesome in there too.

Save those for special occasions, string it out, make 'em last. 'Cuz this is all you get for about two weeks.

Soapy Smith
Ireland's "Health" Drink

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Today must be the luckiest day of the year. Here's why:

I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 10. Take a guess, let's see if you can come close. You're absolutely right, it was seven. I opted not to write that out, just in case you saw it and therefore tossed out all possibility of you thinking of anything OTHER than seven. I know, I'm quite scientific.

Anyway, the number seven is lucky for the vast majority of people. Who knows why? It's really quite weird in my opinion. People tend to like the number 7. There's no explanation.

And what is today? A day full of sevens. July 7 (7/7), leaving 177 days remaining in the year. And on this day in 1807, the Peace of Tilsit between France, Prussia, and Russia (3 countries) ends the Fourth Coalition. 3+4=7.

But does it stop there? Oh no. July 7, 1865, four conspirators in the assassination of President Lincoln are hanged. So let's review those numbers: 1, 8, 6, 5, 4. 8-1=7, 6+5-4=7.

And finally on this day in 1946, Howard Hughes is nearly killed when his XF-11 spy plane prototype crashes in a Beverly Hills neighborhood. And what's the Beverly Hills zip code we all know and love? 90210. So, follow me on this with all the numbers in this paragraph (1, 9, 4, 6, 11, 9, 2, 1, zeros never do anything, so I'm dropping them):
14 x 6=84
2+1=3, so wipe out all those 3s after the decimal in the last result, which leaves you with
9-3=6, so wipe out all those 6s after the same decimal, and what do you get? 7.

Wow, with my amazing math powers, I could start a religion. Or at least a cult. Give me some random biblical prophecy and away I go!

What else is today in history famous for?

The first military draft in the U.S. (1863). Payment of $100 could land you an exemption though. Payment of $20 only got you the National Guard apparently. And by the way, yes, I do realize that this was during the Civil War, so National Guard duty probably wouldn't have kept you out of the line of fire much.

Sliced bread being sold for the first time (1928). It was described as "the greatest forward step in the baking industry since wrapped bread."

Mother Frances Cabrini becomes the first American to be canonized (1946). Of course, she had only become an American officially 8 years before she died... She's the patron saint of immigrants apparently. I managed to secure a picture of the shrine to Mother Cabrini in Manhattan. Have fun with this picture. I think you'll find Waldo before you can distinguish any sort of shrine.

And finally, just one year to the day after Mother Cabrini's canonization, Roswell gets its UFO incident. That's right, the whole Roswell UFO thing happened on 7/7/1947 (1+9+4-7=7)...

And there are 7 letters in the town name of Roswell...

And New Mexico was the 47th state to join the Union...

And cue the X-Files theme music...

Sliced Bread
Cabrini Shrine?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another trip this week

Sorry, folks, but this Thursday I'm leaving again on vacation. It's what summer is all about, isn't it? I'll be gone for a while, but don't worry, I'll still do what I can to keep you occupied...

Today in history marked something about a charter issued by a Pope. The important thing to remember about this is not the event or even the subject of the solemn decree. It is the term for these documents coming from a Pope. Are you ready for this? Papal bull. Sounds to me like it got that name from some atheists who were trying to express what they thought the Pope's words REALLY were.

July 6 also marks the day that Saint Thomas More was beheaded. In 1535 he refused to sign the Act of Supremacy that declared Henry VIII the Supreme Head of the Church of England. See, Henry the VIII felt that everything the Pope said was papal bull. Saint Thomas More disagreed. The interesting thing to note is that good ol' Tommy More was a lawyer and a politician. And they made him a SAINT.

Moving on to sports news in history, today marks the first ever Major League Baseball All-Star game. Maybe what I'm about to say will make sense to some of you, but not being a die-hard sports fanatic, it's really confusing to me. The people that play in this game are the all-stars from the National League and American League. That's like having a National Anthem (which we do) and an American Anthem (which we don't).

I had to research this more fully to make some sense of it. I discovered that the primary difference between the American League (AL) and the National League (NL) is that the AL allows a designated hitter (DH). That's the big whopping difference that necessitated an entirely different league. So now I'm sure the burning question on your minds is whether or not a DH is allowed in the All-Star game. It actually depends on WHERE they play. If they're in an AL stadium, then both teams can have designated hitters. If in an NL stadium, neither team can have a DH.

Seems a bit ridiculous, doesn't it?

And moving along, to the more recent history, on this day in 2003, we sent out five METIs. A METI is Messaging to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. So these 5 METIs that were sent in 2003 went to five different stars, presumably to give us better odds of running into sentient beings from outer space. The first one is due to arrive in 2036, at which point we'll probably be able to send METIs from our cell phones.

2036 METI example:
To: Aliens
From: Dave
Wanna B BFF? If u get this, I'll ROFL! RUMOF? CULA! Beam me up soon!

Unfortunately, even by 2036, there won't be a suitable texting abbreviation for "Beam me up soon".

Sweet baseball catch
Alien response to our 2036 METIs from cell phones

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Superstore Across The River Styx

Today in history is a sad one indeed. I hope you're sitting down.

The very first Walmart opened for business on July 2, in Rogers, Arkansas.

And the world has never been the same since.

I've got to say, I don't have a personal vendetta against Walmart. I really don't. I think crushing all the opposition and pursuing greater wealth and domination is what football is all about. I mean, America. It's what America is all about.

Ask anybody what the American dream is and they'll tell you it's success and wealth untold, from nothing to something, from rags to riches. I think Walmart personifies that dream, having gone from their humble Arkansas roots to the world's largest public corporation by revenue (and what other factors really matter?).

For those of you who do feel that Walmart is the devil though, and that their HQ is firmly founded in Hades, make sure you're well aware of Walmart's grasp on humanity:

Walmart owns Sam's Club.
In other countries, Walmart goes by the following aliases: Walmex, Asda, Seiyu.
Walmart may be a shareholder on your soul.

For those of you who feel it is morally acceptable to shop at Walmart, let me make it easier for you to sleep at night:

In October of 2005, Walmart announced they would be starting a lot of environmental initiatives to increase energy efficiency. One of the main goals was spending $500 million per year to increase fuel efficiency in Walmart's truck fleet. The idea is to increase their efficiency by 25% within 3 years, and then have it doubled by 2015.

Wow. Alternatively, they could buy at least 20,000 Americans a new Prius each year. That would be kind of neat. They could start with their employees, which would probably solve ALL of their problems with lawsuits, accusations of being discriminatory/racist/sexist/whatever-ist.

I don't know which plan would be more environmentally-friendly, but I'm considering applying for a job there, just in case they go the Prius route.

Now, do you recall about five minutes ago when I mentioned Rogers, Arkansas, where Walmart got jump-started? Well Rogers lays claim to another awesome American chain. The HQ of Daisy Outdoor Products is located in Rogers.

What's that? You don't know Daisy Outdoor Products? Let's see if I can jog your memory with a couple movie quotes. They'll get progressively easier and you'll soon see the relevance of Daisy Outdoor Products:

"Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl."

"Some men are Baptists, others Catholics; my father was an Oldsmobile man."

"With as much dignity as he could muster, the Old Man gathered up the sad remains of his shattered major award. Later that night, alone in the backyard, he buried it next to the garage. Now I could never be sure, but I thought that I heard the sound of "Taps" being played, gently."

"Mothers know nothing about creeping marauders burrowing through the snow toward the kitchen where only you and you alone stand between your tiny, huddled family and insensate evil."

"Mommy's little piggie!"

"I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!"

To that last one, Santa Claus, his teacher, and just about every character in the movie (with the exception of his little brother Randy) tells him that he'll shoot his eye out.

And who makes the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle? Daisy Outdoor Products.

I think that's got to be a part of the American dream too. Come to America with nothing, and end up with a superstore and a gun. At least you'll be able to protect your family as they huddle and cower in the kitchen, the one room in the house that all evil-doers attack first.

Frowny Face
Environmentally Friendly
Toyota Prius
Daisy Outdoor Products

P.S. I'll be out of town for a few days, so you're on your own. Mostly. You can check out these websites in your spare time (only one per day, you've got to pace yourself):

Best pranks of all time

An oddly addictive puzzle game
Random facts
Weird news

That should be enough to keep you tied up for a while.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This one's for you, Canada

Today in history has a whole lot of Canuck in it. I mean a lot. And by the way, I really wasn't sure if Canuck would be offensive to anybody. I'm sure we Americans offend Canadians all the time though, so they're probably used to it. Oh well, they're still part of North America, whether they like it or not. And there's not a whole lot they can do about it if they don't like it. Please refer to my very reliable map of North America on the right, which has mispelled Hawaii.

Seriously though, I like both Canada and Canadians. So I hope nothing here offends you. I figure Canuck is probably like calling me a Yankee (at which point I stick a feather in my hat and call it maccaroni). Shouldn't do too much damage.

So Wikipedia has 72 events marking this day in history. Obviously there's a lot more than that, but Wikipedia chooses only the most stellar events, or in other words, only things that have a Wikipedia article about them (which is probably why my birthday was ousted when I secretly tacked it on to the June 10 Wikipedia article). Out of those 72 epic occasions, guess how many involve my northern neighbors? 12. For those of you who are not mathematicians, that's over FORTY PERCENT! For those of you who ARE mathematicians, please don't tell the others that it's not over forty percent.

In truth it's only 17% (rounded up to the nearest integer...oh yes Mr. Dunston, I was listening in 9th grade math). But still, Canada doesn't occupy 17% of the world's, well, anything! So today, Canada, is your special day. We raise our hockey sticks, maple syrup, and grizzly bears, and we salute you.

Most of the Canadian events mentioned in Today in History are frankly dull and boring, as classified such by the American Committee for Dull and Boring Incidents. Since Canada's a part of North America, I believe there are even Canadians on that committee. However, O Canada officially became Canada's national anthem on this day in 1980. Neither dull, nor boring. In fact O Canada has an interested tangled past of intrigue and drama.

You see, since 1867, God Save The King and The Maple Leaf Forever had been competing as unofficial national anthems. Then O Canada came into the picture and blew 'em both out of the water so forcefully and obviously that the Canadian government scrambled to buy the rights to the lyrics and music. So badly did they want those rights that they pooled all their savings and spared no expense. And the lyrics and music to O Canada were purchased for ONE DOLLAR.

That's not even a good ol' steady greenback American dollar, either. That's a Canuck buck. It would have been worth about 85 American cents back in the day.

I must say though, it's not hard to see why The Maple Leaf Forever didn't win in the end. I kid you not, some of its lyrics include talking about enjoining in love the thistle, shamrock, rose, and maple leaf.

Here's another interesting trivia fact (sorry, I meant trivial fact) about O Canada. You know when you were in sixth grade and you took those aptitude tests trying to determine which math class you should attend? Ok, your personal experiences here may vary, but you'll soon recognize what I'm talking about (which today is pronounced "ah-boot"). Do you remember seeing something like this labeled as an alien language you had to translate, given that certain symbols meant certain words?

ᐆ ᑲᓇᑕ! ᓇᖕᒥᓂ ᓄᓇᕗᑦ!
ᐱᖁᔭᑏ ᓇᓚᑦᑎᐊᖅᐸᕗᑦ.
ᓇᖏᖅᐳᒍ, ᐆ ᑲᓇᑕ,
ᐆ ᑲᓇᑕ! ᓄᓇᑦᓯᐊ!
ᓇᖏᖅᐳᒍ ᒥᐊᓂᕆᑉᓗᑎ,
ᐆ ᑲᓇᑕ, ᓴᓚᒋᔭᐅᖁᓇ!

Well, in truth, those are the lyrics to O Canada. That there is the Inuktitut version of the lyrics. Inuktitut is the name of some of the Inuit languages, which is recognized as an official language in parts of Canada. The other parts want none of it (which today is pronounced "Nunavut").

So if you were put in the slow math class, blame Canada, eh.

Flawed North America map
The Maple Leaf Forever postcard
Stupid Math Calculator

Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Mikes and Ray

I have to be honest. Today in history has yet another grim outlook. However, I choose to celebrate Michael Phelps' birthday instead. Yep, get your party hats on, that swimming guy just turned 24. His birthday cake looks like this:

Raymond Moody is also celebrating his birthday today. By normal standards, this is his 65th birthday. However, seeing as this guy believes he has led 9 previous lives, it's more like his 785th birthday. I bet he's really tired of blowing out those stupid candles.

Raymond Moody, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this household name (if your household happens to be the Moody residence), is a parapsychologist. He wrote some pretty widely-read stuff about the afterlife based on interviews and research on near-death experiences. He also says that there are 9 events common to most people who have a near death experience. The top one on the list? Hearing sounds such as buzzing.

So apparently we'll be escorted into the afterlife by some bees. Odd choice, Big Man Upstairs. Whatever. I'm just disappointed that the following things were not mentioned on that list:
Arriving at the Pearly Gates
Seeing gold-paved streets
Eating soft-serve ice cream

Mike Tyson was also born on this day in 1966. His birthday cake looks like this (right):

And now that I've got you wondering...this is what Raymond Moody's birthday cake looks like (below):

You would not believe the crazy stuff that comes up in a Google Image search for "Pearly Gates cake".

Pool Cake
Ear Cake
RIP Cake

Today In Today

I'm going to pass up Today In History for Today In Today, an exciting new segment that details actual events according to various news reports. Of course, I'm not going to cover the usual stories (military coups, the entire Middle East, and/or any stimulus package). I'm only delving into the bizarre.

The Salt Lake Tribune brought an interesting fact to my attention today. If you check out this website that is a "guide" to Draper, UT, you'll be pleasantly surrounded by the various things Draper City offers. Good dining, good shopping, and the State Prison. The State Prison is not mentioned under the 'Trivia Facts" section (which unfortunately doesn't even exist). It is listed under "Entertainment".

Upon clicking on the link for more information about the State Prison, you get the address, phone number, a little box labeled "You also might like...Federal Correctional Facilities...," and lower down the categorization of the prison being both "Correctional Facilities" and "Attractions". There were no user reviews...

Out of curiosity, I searched the Draper Prison website to see if I could schedule a tour. After all, it wouldn't be a very welcoming entertainment location if they didn't at least offer tours. I found no easy way to do so and I did not feel inclined to call them somewhat jokingly. I was mostly deterred from making this call by the pictures posted on their website. Every time I saw a picture of the guards that worked there, they were at a firing range. I kid you not; I struggled to find a picture of a guard that was not wearing earmuffs and aiming a gun. Oddly enough, the targets were never pictured, so you really have no idea what these guys (and gals) were aiming at...

So cross that off your list of "Things to do when I visit Utah". It may be theoretically categorized as an attraction and entertainment, but I think the jury's still out on such classification...

Continuing on in the news, I found a brief article mentioning a murder that took place in Pennsylvania in May. Two guys were arguing over a game, one had a gun, the other apparently thought he was Dirty Harry and his last words were, "Shoot me, shoot me, you ain't got the..."

The game that provoked the argument? Beer pong.

What makes this news scoop even more sad is that the Pennsylvania State Prisons do not appear to be listed in the Entertainment sections of any city guide websites, as far as I can tell. So Joseph Jimenez (who apparently did have the guts or gumption or whatever the other guy was about to say) is likely to spend some time in a prison facility that is not very entertaining. The good news for him is that I could not find a single picture on the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections website of gun-wielding guards practicing shooting things. And by the way, you can purchase a piece of furniture that Joseph might have made through the Pennsylvania Correctional Industries catalog, if you so desire...

If you don't go to that website, you're missing out on the very thing that will make your day a happy one.

Now back to beer pong. I'd like to note here that I'm firmly against drinking alcohol. Not being a drinker myself, I'm completely unfamiliar with drinking games. But I just had to find out what this one was all about. Some of you may be surprised to find that Wikipedia has a very extensive article outlining everything related to beer pong.

The general idea: bounce a ping pong ball into a cup of beer, then drink beer. There are, of course, MANY variations to this and usually there are teams. I'm guessing that most of these variations came about when the heavy drinkers vaguely recalled playing something that involved a ping pong ball and they recreated the game as best as they could.

What nearly stunned me (although I should never really doubt the almighty power of Wikipedia) was just how much detail its beer pong article explored. I simply cannot do this article justice. Diagrams, ideal trajectories (see picture on left of arc shot, fastball, and bounce shot), and my favorite part of the whole article, "The game is also played by high school students, despite the fact that supplying alcohol to persons under the age of 21 in the United States...is nominally illegal," (emphasis added). Right. Unfortunately for Joseph, murder is not one of those "nominal" offenses.

On the bright side though, I bet Joseph can whip up a mean "Big House Laundry Detergent".

Prison Guards
Beer Pong
Beer Pong Ideal Trajectories

Friday, June 26, 2009

Busy week

I know I've promised a dozen times to not use this as an outlet for personal information, but I feel some obligation to explain my absence. My wife and I have been house- and dog-sitting recently and I only have Internet access via the computer my wife brings home from work. With such limited time, I opted to put the blog on the back burner. I'm not saying it's completely back from the back burner now, but just know that I may not be as vigilant about posting every day anymore!

Today in history is awesome. Are you ready?

June 26, 1284: The legendary Pied Piper leads 130 children out of Hamelin, Germany.

That's right, the Pied Piper is real.

Well, ok, maybe not REAL, but at least the story has a lot of credence to it. I just thought it was amazing that it was narrowed down to the very day that the Pied Piper led the kids out of the town. I mean, we don't know the day that Snow White met the 7 dwarfs or the day that Little Red Riding Hood went off to see her grandmother.

For anybody who is unfamiliar with the legend of the Pied Piper, here's a brief recap:

Hamelin, Germany has a rat infestation.

The Pied Piper shows up and offers to take care of the rat problem. By the way, "Pied" refers to his clothes, apparently they had patches of two or more different colors, like the magpie's black and white coloring, which is where "pied" got its name from. I guess nobody really knows this because half of the Google image pictures that come up when you search for "Pied Piper" depict this guy in one color only. Goofballs.

The town agrees to pay the Piper "X" amount of money to get rid of the rats.

He pipes away a tune that leads the rats into the nearby river, where they all drown.

The townspeople immediately ask if he knows a tune to enchant politicians.

He doesn't.

They get mad and refuse to pay him.

He gets mad and decides to get revenge.

He invents rap music and pipes away, leading away all the children.

Then the various versions of the story branch off here. Some say he leads the kids to a nearby cave and hides them there until the townspeople pay him (usually an exorbitant amount of money, much more than the agreed-upon price). Some say he never returns the kids because he never got paid. Some say he leads the kids away to a mysterious place where they are never heard from again. I was going to surmise that this mysterious place where they disappeared was the Neverland Ranch, although considering recent events that joke seems terribly tactless. Oh well, I said it anyway. Does the joke become more tasteful if you recognize that it's completely tactless?

So the Pied Piper was actually depicted on a stained glass window of the Hamelin church around 1300. The church isn't around anymore, which is really disappointing because I would sure like to see a stained glass representation of rap music being invented.

Apparently the earliest record in the town chronicles is an entry from 1384 which states that it has been 100 years "since our children left".

Side note: Does your town keep a chronicle? Probably, but it's most likely called something different these days. Too bad; I'd love to read a town chronicle. Well, maybe I'd love it for about 10 minutes and then it would get boring. Too much politics. If only the Pied Piper had known a politician-enchanting tune.

So some historians believe that the Pied Piper represents Death. There was some tragic event in which a whole lot of town children died and the townspeople thought it best to depict Death as a musician. Forget the whole black cloak and sickle outfit. Ironically, Marilyn Manson thinks the reverse--that it's a good idea for a musician to look like Death. There are a lot of people that argue this controversial concept though. Most seem to be on the side of Marilyn Manson not being a "musician".

There are other theories that say the kids started a pilgrimmage or even a Children's Crusade but never returned. The Pied Piper in these instances is the leader or recruiting agent. Another possibility is that the kids were sold to help populate some other nearby region, which apparently was not an uncommon practice at the time. Illegitimate or orphaned children that the town couldn't support were possibly just sold off to the Baltic general area. I guess there's some credence to that, but I still can't imagine rap music being invented in the Baltics.

The most common theory is that the children willingly abandoned their parents to found their own villages during the colonization of Eastern Europe. The Piper is seen as their leader. Because hey, if a guy can play an instrument, he must surely be wise enough to found a village.

Possible Baltic rap lyrics:

Yo check it, this here is the Baltic rhapsody,
coming to you from Lithuania City.
It could come from Latvia or even possibly
Estonia, sucka, 'cause that's the Baltic THREE.

Word, unh, yeah, what?
Lithuania City, yeah, what?
Not the Baltic sea, no, never happen.

Pied Piper
Alleged Rapper, probably not from the Baltics
Marilyn Manson

Friday, June 19, 2009

Man, oh man!

Today's blog is going to be entirely different. I've cast away the concept (for today at least) of looking at this day in history and seeing where that takes me. Instead I shall look at this day in the future...specifically 2012.

Not too far off, right?

It all began this morning when I chanced to actually look at the Google ads on the right of my blog as I reviewed it. I noticed one I could not believe. Are these people for real? I had to go to their website. For anybody who's worried about this, don't fret. I did not click on the link because I know of Google's Terms of Service. I can't click on my own links to generate cash.

Anyway, I soon commenced the discovery of the fact that on Dec 21, 2012 the world will end. And it must be true because these people used science to prove it.

Institute for Human Continuity (IHC for short)

Ok, so apparently this is all a bit of a hoax, in preparation for the movie 2012 which is due to come out towards the end of this year. But still, the website is a lot of fun to peruse, I must admit. And the preview is pretty fun, too. A Tibetan monk eats it...hard.

Let me share with you some highlights I found from the website.

Oliver Platt is the White House Chief of Staff.
IHC is hosting a lottery to determine which individuals will be tucked away for guaranteed survival.
Australia seems to have the most registered lottery participants.
A survival pack should apparently contain canned food (that's one survival pack I don't want to heft around).
Floating cities are a real possibility (floating on water, that is, not air).

I highly recommend perusing the website. You definitely have to see, if nothing else, this interactive presentation of how it all happens. The cataclysmic events aren't depicted as much as I would have liked, but it's still pretty sweet. If you get stuck, just click on "Send Solar Flare" a couple times. It helps move the program along. There's another one here. There are multiple scenarios, too; I recommend replaying a few times. To get back to the website after either of those, just hit "Close" from the top right of that little simulation (not the very top right of the screen, Genius).

Yeah, just explore. I'm amazed at how much advertising has gone into this film!

My absolute favorite aspect of all this (let's see if you can find it) is to watch a clip of "Charlie Frost" (played by Woody Harrelson) in which he declares, "I think the sun will bombard the Earth with enough neutrinos to cause catastrophic crustal displacement. But hey, I'm a hopeless romantic."

Floating City
Sun (doesn't this picture look like the sun just gave somebody an uppercut?)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

GPS, Tahiti, and 1973

On June 18, 1767, Samuel Wallis (an English sea captain) spots Tahiti and is considered the first European to reach the island. He was trying to get to Sydney but his GPS was in a cabin that they didn't use too much, so nobody heard the constant "Turn left now" and subsequent "Recalculating route." The GPS finally gave up because nobody was listening and right before the batteries died, it uttered, "Fine, sail anywhere you dang well please."

GPS systems are incredibly useful. I'm just surprised that more hasn't been done with them yet. Approximately three seconds after cell phones were invented, ringtones were being programmed based on popular songs of the day. Unfortunately, since the cell phone was really invented in 1973, the first three ringtones (the following information is not true) were poor electronic keyboard versions of John Denver's Rocky Mountain High, Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly with His Song, and Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On. Surprisingly enough, these three are still in the top ten most-purchased ringtones.

Actually, I would love to see ringtones from the following 1973 hits:

Bad Bad Leroy Brown (Jim Croce)
You're So Vain (Carly Simon)
Shambala (Three Dog Night)
Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple)
Dueling Banjos (Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel)
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (Bette Midler)
Kodachrome (Paul Simon)
Ramblin' Man (Allman Brothers)
Your Mama Don't Dance (Loggins and Messina)
Neither One of Us Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye (Gladys Knight and the Pips)
Monster Mash (Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers)

I'm sure half of those already are ringtones, if not all of them. But I'd like to hear the poor electronic keyboard 1973 ringtone versions.

I would also just like to hear these 1973 hits, just for the sake of accomplishing one more random, yet oddly satisfying, thing before I die someday:

Also Sprach Zarathustra (Deodato)
Say Has Anyone Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose (Tony Orlando and Dawn)
Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu (Johnny Rivers)
Half Breed (Cher)

So I went ahead and listened to these four via iTunes. Wow. 1973. For a few moments I thought it would be great to invent a time machine and go back to 1973, if nothing else for the music. Because that first list of 1973 hits was pretty fantastic, I must say. But then I listened to these four songs. I hope I'm not stepping on any toes here, but those songs are really quite horrible. With one exception. I'll let you mull it over for a few moments, trying to figure out which one is worth its weight in at least copper.

Meanwhile, back to the GPS concept, I think it would be great to have Voicetones you could download to your GPS. You could do some famous actors and actresses (Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sylvester Stallone, Angela Lansbury) or even a more popular character package that includes all the voices from particular shows. You could switch through the voices at your discretion.

I'm thinking the following packages would be the most popular:

Star Wars
Examples: "Chewy, I need you to make a left turn buddy, come on (followed by Chewbacca's familiar groan, if that's what it is)." "(A series of beeps and electronic noises) Oh my R2, you're right! They do need to turn right in 50 yards." "(stifled breathing) Release your anger. You have missed the exit. You must now make a U-turn." "U-turn you must take, yes. Missed the exit you have. Mm-hmm."

Star Trek (the original cast)
Examples: "Mr. Sulu (pause), turn left (pause) now! Full impulse power!" "Captain, if I may, I suggest a right turn in approximately 1.63 miles, it is the most logical course of action." "I'm sorry, Captain, but she just can't take another wrong turn! She won't hold! She needs to turn right in fifty yards or we're done for!"

Examples: "Don't have a cow, man, just make a U-turn." "Hey, what does this little arrow mean? Do you want me to turn right you cute little arrow? Is that the fastest way to the Donut King? Dough...nut...ahhh...(drooling sounds)"

Example: "You need to take a left turn in 40 yards and intubate, STAT!"

Example: (this one would be in conversation mode and constantly use all the characters, nothing would ever be just one voice) "I mean, come on! How hard can it be? I tell you to turn left, I should think you would turn left!" "That's what I said! You don't think they didn't turn left because I don't have much hair, do you?" "Who's turning left?" "Apparently not this guy!"

High School Musical
I can't give you any examples. I'm sure there would be a song and the GPS might even show a little dance number, probably on the school track. I haven't seen these movies and I don't think I ever will. It's a moral choice. I'm not opposed to their GPS Voicetune though.

Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu. That's the one song, of the four, that I considered actually worthwhile. The odd thing is that I checked the popularity meter on iTunes when I listened to smidgeons of all four songs. The first two were pretty low, a 3 and a 5 respectively. The third was through the roof (with good reason). What shocked me was Cher's Half Breed song. It was incredibly high in popularity as well, even though it sounded terrible to me. Upon further investigation, I found that this song was about a woman who is half-Cherokee and half-caucasion. In fact, the entire album was named Half Breed. At first I thought that maybe Cher was indeed of this racial mix and it was very personal. Which could explain some of the popularity.

While Cher does have some Cherokee blood in her, it's not much. Her mother was of Cherokee, English, and German descent. Her father was an Armenian refugee, which in my opinion is really where she got the features that could kind of be misinterpreted as Native American. So I don't think she was really ostracized (as the song lyrics and music video suggest) for being a Half Breed as a kid.

So I ultimately have no idea why the song was such a hit in America, and even less of an idea why it was popular in Sweden and Norway. But then again, High School Musical was a hit in both of those countries as well, so their taste is just clearly very different from mine. Hey, can you imagine the High School Musical GPS Voicetune...in Swedish?

Tahiti General Area
Star Wars
High School Musical (ugh)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Yes! Finally!

Well folks, it finally happened. And I'm very excited (in case you couldn't tell from the title of this post). I've been writing these posts daily (with only one exception) for a few weeks and finally, finally, it happened.

Vlad the Impaler is mentioned in today in history.

What he's mentioned for is not important. You know who good ol' Vlad is, right? Dracula!

For some reason I was mildly obsessed with Dracula as a kid. I recall being Dracula for Halloween several years in a row. The only bummer about being Dracula on Halloween is when you have to go trick or treating with your sister who is dressed as a ballerina. Dracula's a lot less frightening when accompanied by a ballerina. Ah well, it was nice of her to accompany me regardless.

At some point when I was slightly older I learned about the man behind the Dracula legends--Vlad the Impaler.

I'll make sure not to include the gory stuff here. But I do want to mention that dear Vlad is still revered by the Romanian people for his accomplishments while a ruler there. Of course, I have it on good authority that Romania has also declared their national TV show to be reruns of The Dukes of Hazard. So I'm not sure how much we can trust their popular opinion...

Ok, more awesomeness about Vlad: His Romanian last name (Draculea) means "son of the dragon". This comes from his father's title: Vlad the Dragon (equally amazing). Vlad the Dragon was also a member of the Order of the Dragon (I know, I know, I too am overwhelmed with all these awesome things). It doesn't stop there though. Young Vlad (later to become the Impaler) was inducted into the same Order of the Dragon at the age of FIVE.

I would love to see a bar brawl involving Vlad the Impaler, King Magnus V of Norway, Chuck Norris, and Staff Sergeant Max Fightmaster. For further information on two of these people, read my other posts. This is the first of my posts to mention Chuck Norris though. If you don't recognize that he would make a great contender in a bar brawl with the other three, well, then you don't know Chuck Norris.

Two things to note about Chuck Norris. 1) He doesn't need to be bulletproof. Bullets dodge him. 2) He counted to infinity. Twice.

Anyway, I hope to see more Dracula costumes this Halloween. Or perhaps a Chuck Norris costume combined with vampire teeth. Perferably unaccompanied by ballerinas.

Vlad the Impaler
General Lee (the car)
The Chuck